« EdellinenJatka »
constitution, this is the first occasion on which the conduct of the first magistrate of the republic has been censured by the Senate. The Chamber of Representatives, on the other hand, has decided that the Bank of the United States should not have its charter renewed; that the public deposits should not be restored to it; and that they should be divided among the provincial banks. The first resolution passed by a majority of 132 to 82; the second by 118 to 103; the third by 117 to 105."-CHEVALIER, i. 125, 126.
To these copious extracts, so singularly illustrative of the causes of that terrible commercial crisis under which both America and Great Britain are now so grievously suffering, we shall add only one other—but it is a precious one—highly characteristic of the tendency of a blind, demagogue-led, urban constituency, with universal suffrage and vote by ballot, to rush headlong, and amidst transports, on measures calculated not merely remotely to injure their country, but instantly to send themselves to destruction. Ten thousand of the respectable, educated, and wealthy citizens of New York, embracing nineteen-twentieths of the capital of that great city, had petitioned General Jackson in favour of the Bank.
“ General Jackson answered to the deputies, that they expressed the grievances of the capitalists, merchants, and courtiers of Wall Street and Pearl Street,* but that Wall Street and Pearl Street were not the people.' Nevertheless, it may be asked, what would New York have been without Pearl Street and Wall Street? In the last fifty years, its population has increased ten, its riches a hundred fold. Assuredly this almost miraculous increase was not the work either of its soldiers or its advocates ; the source of it is to be found in the boundless industrial establishments which have been brought into existence, nourished and sustained by the bankers of Wall Street and Pearl Street. It is very easy to declaim against the monied aristocracy ; where would America, and New York especially, have been without them? If there is a country in the world where such declamation against the aristocracy of guineas is absurd, it is the United States." — CHEVALIER, i. 109.
We have seen how strongly the opinion of all the wealth, education, and property of New York was expressed in favour of the Bank, to which they were well aware they were indebted for most of the blessings which they enjoyed; let us see what was the opinion of the masses, invested by universal suffrage and vote by ballot with a preponderating voice in the legislature, on the same subject. In the municipal elections of 1835, a prodigious effort was made by both parties; 36,000 persons voted in New York, and by a majority of 2700 the Jackson party carried
# The Threadneedle Street and the Lombard Street of New York.
the victory! A system evidently calculated to bring destruction on all, and especially on the humblest class of voters in that very city, which, in two years afterwards, involved all the voters in bankruptcy, destitution, and beggary, was carried amidst boundless shouts of applause by a majority of 2700, despite all the efforts of 10,000 of the most enlightened and opulent citizens ! Such is republican government.
The brawling patriots of America, however, do not trust to democratic passion alone to uphold their ascendency ; corruption has already become their weapon ; centralisation their system of permanent warfare.
“ Under the moderate and beneficent rule of former Presidents, the public functionaries were not changed on the change of Government, and they were not allowed to take any part in the public elections. Since the election of General Jackson, however, a systematic system of exclusion has been adopted, public employment of all kind has become the spoil of victory. President Jackson has overspread, with his creatures, every portion of the Union; all the Custom-house officers, all holding office under Government, have become his creatures. This system has gained cities and counties; the magistrates, secretaries, printers, judges, inspectors of markets, police, watchmen, in a word, public functionaries of every description, are aware that the bread of themselves and their families depends on upholding the ruling dominant powers. The President has now under his command an army of Sixty THOUSAND civil servants; they are his âmes damnées."CHEVALIER, i. 328.
Here is the beginning of the end-centralisation is advancing, aux pas de géant, on the shoulders of democratic ascendency. It requires not the gift of prophecy to say in what that will terminate.
No subjects of contemplation more momentous and important ever were brought before the British people, especially at this crisis, than those contained in these extracts. Here is a public calamity which has extended over the whole world, which has wrapped America in conflagration, and diffused distress to an unheard-of extent over the British Islands—which is clearly and indisputably owing to the insane conduct of the American democracy. For, can any one doubt, from the course which the strain has taken, the violent drain on the Bank of England, in which it commenced, the dreadful pressure in America, to which it led, or the unparalleled catastrophe there of public and private bankruptcy in which it terminated—that the seat of the evil was to be found in the United States ?
And when we see at the very same time an absurd and destructive cry got up in all parts of the Union against banks and paper credit, which led to a proscription of all but gold and silver by the Executive, at the very moment when the fever of speculation, both in land and goods, was at its height; can there be the slightest doubt that they were cause and effect? It is as clear now as the sun at noonday what occasioned the drain on the Bank of England, and forced that great establishment so early into those measures of defence which, by contracting the currency of this country, led to all the subsequent distress. It was to pay the duties in specie to the American Government, and to liquidate the enormous debts due to it for public lands, for which nothing but cash would be taken, that the money was wanted. It was that which gave rise to the ruinous traffic which grew up so quickly to so enormous a height, and consisted in drawing specie from Great Britain, and forcing up the price of cotton here to pay for it from the United States. The great American houses, since involved in so much difficulty, were great pumps to extract the metallic currency from England, and send it to America, where gold and silver only would be taken by the Government in payment of their immense claims on the people, and interest had in consequence risen to 36 per cent a-year at all the chief towns of the Union. Suppose a similar resolution to take nothing from the people but gold and silver, in payment of taxes, were to be adopted by the British Government, would it not render every man engaged in trade in the three kingdoms bankrupt in three months ? And what other result could have been expected in the United States, whose solid capital is so much less abundant, where new undertakings are so much more extensive, and paper credit is so much more widely diffused.
That the rapid rise of prices, and general fever of speculation, which prevailed in these islands in 1835 and 1836, must of itself, sooner or later, have led to a commercial crisis, is indeed certain ; but there can be no doubt that the mad proceedings of the American mob-led Executive both accelerated its approach, and enormously increased its severity. A rise of prices in one country must always lead in
the end to the precious metals flowing abroad, and, consequently, by checking credit, give a temporary blow to industry; but, in the present instance, this alarming drain began far sooner and more suddenly, and became early infinitely more violent, than could be accounted for by any such natural causes. It was the great act of democratic despotism by the American masses which has thrown the whole world into convulsion, and induced an extent of ruin and suffering, for a parallel to which we shall search the annals of regal or aristocratic oppression in vain.
Here, too, we see portrayed in vivid colours the utter futility of those barriers against popular delusion and insanity which we have so often been told arise from the practical exercise of power by the people, and the unrestrained influence of universal education, public journals, and a free press; or of the natural tendency of the Saxon race to keep free from those acts of public insanity to which their Celtic neighbours, both in France and Ireland, are so much inclined. Here are the whole Anglo-American masses, even in the great cities, and the centres of light and civilisation, all educated and habituated from their infancy to the exercise of the most unbounded political rights, combining in an act of insanity! Here, in the land where the majority, which is ever right, is installed in supreme power, and the minority of property, character, and education, is cast into the dust -has been perpetrated, amidst shouts of democratic transport, which resounded from the Atlantic to the Ohio, and from the St Lawrence to the Gulf of Mexico, a gigantic deed of injustice, wickedness, and folly ; beside which, in its ultimate and fatal consequences upon themselves and mankind, the greatest excesses of regal and military power; the tyranny of Nero, the pride of Louis XIV., the ambition of Napoleon, the invasion of Russia, the war in Spain, are but as slight and transient evils.
COLONIAL GOVERNMENT AND THE WEST
[BLACKWOOD'S MAGAZINE, JULY 1839)
The slightest acquaintance with history must be sufficient to convince every well-informed person, that colonial jealousy and discontent is the rock on which all the great maritime powers of the world have hitherto split. As the formation of a great maritime dominion without colonies is altogether impossible—for this plain reason, that the carrying trade is generally enjoyed as much by foreigners as natives, and the only traffic which can be permanently relied on as a nursery for seamen is that which is carried on with your own dependencies, and of which foreign jealousy or hostility cannot deprive you—so the loss of such colonies has invariably been the certain forerunner of approaching ruin. To trust to the carrying trade, as a resource which can be relied on when colonial dependencies have been severed from the mother country, is of all delusions the most deplorable. Experience has everywhere proved, what reason might a priori have anticipated, that trade with independent states, how extensive soever, invariably comes in the later stages of society to fall more and more into the hands of foreign shipowners, and that, in the very magnitude of a great manufacturing state's foreign commercial intercourse is laid, but for the intervention of its own colonies, the sure foundation for its ultimate subjugation. The reason is to be found in the lower value of money, and consequent greater expense of building and manning ships in an old opulent commercial community than in a young and rising one, which has the materials of a commercial navy within its own bounds, and the consequent cheaper rate at which goods can be